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American Moderns: Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century
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American Moderns: Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  87 ratings  ·  11 reviews
A brilliant account of the American bohemians whose experiments in living, writing, and loving created the modern world and made New York its capital.

In the early years of the twentieth century, an exuberant band of talented individualists living in a shabby neighborhood called Greenwich Village set out to change the world. Committed to free speech, free love, and politica...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published May 3rd 2000 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published 2000)
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Stansell presents a long, biographically-driven story of the "intelligentsia" of the Left wing lifestyle politics-- the Bohemians who would become Greenwich Villagers over time--the people who were movers and shakers behind the idealization of New Woman discussions before the New Woman of the 1920s became widely popular. This was a world of free love (open marriages, marriages of non-cohabitation, and others cohabitating and not marriage) and of IWW advocacy, and generally of disobedience before...more
I was excited when I first saw this book on my reading list... the title reminded me of a book I read Nights out: Life in cosmopolitan London (which came out after American Moderns). I was expecting a similar book, but set in NY. While the book was very interesting, particularly the section on "The Human Sex," it did not make my favorites' list. I was not expecting a book filled with mini-biographies on individuals and found it difficult at first to keep track of all the characters. I found the...more
Alexandra Noelle
Focused on turn of the century New York City, Christine Stansell’s work, American Moderns: Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century offers insight into the creation of bohemian culture and the area known today as Greenwich Village. Stansell’s work is foremost a character study. Focusing on thematic organization Stansell is able to highlight key players of the Bohemian movement in a relatively narrow time period. Her work is not a mere chronological study of downtown New York, but rath...more
Jul 10, 2012 Jill added it
The backstory to the movie Reds, which I saw as a teenager and which I'm sure played a significant role in my becoming a historian. Not as engrossing as the movie, and I found the organization rather clunky and a little repetitive in places, but generally interesting. I especially appreciated the subtheme of performance: the major players all engaged in some form of self-dramatization, either through writing or talking (conversation, speeches, dramatic performances).

I do have to admit, though, t...more
Stansell explores the world of New York Bohemia at the turn of the 20th century – a multicultural world of intellectuals, immigrants, Wobblies, women, artist, and anarchists. Heavily influenced by European literature, politically engaged New York bohemians devoted to free speech and free love, as well as the creation of a new modern culture. Not surprisingly considering Stansell’s work on urban women and sexuality, the book focuses of the socio-sexual liberation of women. It was ok; I enjoyed le...more
See, there were these folks in Greenwich Village who had great parties and lots of great uncomplicated (or so they thought) sex, and they might have changed the world, but then WWI happened. My parents went to their parties, and all I got was this lousy book.
Who knew Davenport, Iowa had an imprtant and big boho culture? I liked this book a lot, especially the parts on Randolph Bourne.
As mentioned by Kate Bolick.
Okay. Although an interesting portrait of Greenwich Village.
Makes me miss being a historian.
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